The “W” Word


Louie was a dog with a serious side, being of German extraction. Playing ‘fetch’ was no game. It was growling serious that he ‘win’, that he possess that stick and keep it from lying lost on the lawn or being snatched away from him…This was his work and there was nothing playful in it. He was focused and serious. I suppose that’s why German Shepherds are chosen for police dogs and working occupations…

We made a good pair that way. I too see the serious side of any given incident, even if it’s meant to be a joke. I suppose I take even myself too seriously. Always have. It was once about earning A’s, pleasing the teacher, and so establishing my identity as a ‘good’ student. Did I transfer this mentality to God? I wonder sometimes. Do I work still for A’s so He’ll be pleased?

There’s one snag in the whole thing. I’m not really an ‘A student’ when it comes to the heart of the matter. ‘Full of dead men’s bones’ is how Jesus described anyone trusting in their own performance but not concerned about the hidden matters of the heart. Only Jesus can change that. I’ve just finished listening to an excellent series of messages by Charles Price, addressing what’s to be done to live the Christian life without it becoming a ‘try-harder-to-be-good’ sort of thing (which is futile, frustrating and a booby trap for prideful self-delusion!)

The concept of welcoming death to self in exchange for union with Christ keeps popping up for me. I’m a slow learner? No sooner did I finish this very encouraging series, then the following morning in church the message was taken from Romans 6—a matter-of-fact presentation on our ‘union with Christ’—the key to having any capacity to please God. United with Him in His death—so we have died to our old sin nature. United with Him in His resurrection—so we have a new life, His life, motivating us from within.

So there it was again, this Christ who IS my life. I so readily fall out of grace and into effort. Surely I must need to DO something myself to be really pleasing. I so readily forget it’s faith that pleases God and the obedience it engenders. To attempt obedience without faith is to follow Abraham’s misguided effort to fulfill God’s promise in his own strength. Disaster!

Another tell-tale sign of misunderstanding my standing as one dead, but alive despite myself, is that when I do fail or disappoint (myself or you!) it’s a hard blow, as if it threatened my whole identity! God is not disappointed. He knows me through and through, knows my points of weakness, knows what I’m made of and has all that covered with Jesus! From me He expects repentance and a confident coming to the ‘throne of grace’ for all I lack. It is enough. I am able to resume life, humbled maybe at the recognition of my own propensity for sin, but forgiven and unashamed, accepted in the Beloved. As I write this I am preaching it to myself. It does not come naturally or easily for this would-be-perfect-in-her-own-strength girl. Reminders come.

I guess that’s why I’ve so appreciated Price’s messages this week with their emphasis that the Christian life is not about self-improvement but about dependence on Christ to live HIS life through me. The devil’s not to blame, (or anybody else!). I am. But that’s OK. Repentance is a breath away. And it’s a relief to cast myself on One who really is good and wants to live His life out in me. He knows how to do it right!

What’s the trick? There is none. The most confusing thing about the Christian life, Price suggests, is its simplicity. You cannot live it without Christ but when you’re abiding in Him, by faith, things happen. It’s like flying. You can’t, until you’re in the plane. Then there’s nothing more to do but trust the plane to get you there. Even the anxious traveler arrives, though he may miss the pleasure of the trip! It boils down to faith. Just as I came to Jesus in the first place by faith acknowledging my helpless sin-bound state, so this is how He expects me to live the Christian life, by faith, dead to my old self and alive to Him.

I can get in a pretty serious state looking at the ‘old mare’ and her propensity for selfishness. I can be like Louie, taking life way too seriously. ‘This stick is mine and I’m going to see that it stays in my control’…But Louie had another side. A single word could transform him into an ecstatic, tail-wagging, happy bundle of energy. The “W” word, my friend used to call it. And if you have a dog, you know it well.

(shhhh… I’ll say it quietly) The word is walk. Why keep it quiet? Well once it’s out, there’s no rest for the speaker until the leash is fetched and the door opened!

I smile to myself to realize how the “W” word applies also to me. What will rescue me from my moribund hold on good intentions?

The Spirit invites me to WALK with Him. And as I do, all the rest of the Christian life falls into place. He’s got the trail planned. He knows the destination and all the highpoints and muddy crossings along the way. He directs my steps. I need only obediently trust His lead. This is the way to live the Christ life, not fixated on the flesh and what it’s up to but ambling down the road eager to comply with my Master’s directions. By faith heeding his: Heel, Fetch, Sit, Down, Wait… He’s got my days planned and my trails are by His appointment. I’m his concern after all. How carefree is that?

And look at the side-effects of walking by the Spirit..Not only will I not gratify the desires of my sin-bent nature (Gal.5:1) which do damage to myself and those around me, but there’ll be an overflow of love and joy and peace, patience and kindness and even goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22,23) Sounds like something to get excited about!

As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him… (Col.2:6)

Did Someone say, “WALK” ?!!!


For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Gal.5:5,6

Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by works of the flesh? Gal.3:3

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Gal. 5:25,26

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Phil.1:6

Before I scamper off down the trail may I leave you with a poem that grabbed my heart this week. It portrays so well the relief of repentance and the joy that is its reward. Would we not cease to trudge downcast through life if we kept this gracious prospect in our mind’s eye?


“Come to myself, I trudge down distant roads.
Tired of the husks of life, I hurry home.
Knowing the cross awaits, I still must come,
Prepared to be a servant, not a son.

Your longing love outreaches me, outruns
My tardy progress borne on dragging feet.
Blessed, kissed, forgiven, lifted to my place,
I find the dreaded welcome sudden sweet.

Is this your punishment for sin, dear Lord?
The father’s kiss? The ring? The robe? The calf?
Heart-heavy, I had feared repentance, Lord.
I came to cry, and now you tell me, “Laugh!”

–Elizabeth B. Rooney
[from Storing September, 2001, p.75]


Charles Price’s series of 5 messages on letting Christ live His life in us were delivered at Prairie Bible College during “Christian Life Week”, Sept.25-27, 2012. They can be heard and/or downloaded at Prairie’s website under “Special Events” at:

They are also available on YouTube.

Faithful Landmarks to stay the course of truth


In unfamiliar territory winds and waves may veer a small boat off course. Without nautical charts to mark the rocks the little boat may ground on a hidden rock, punch a hole in its hull, and founder…Even if it escapes these perils, without a chart to indicate the pertinent landmarks it may miss its destination altogether. ‘Never sail in unknown waters without your charts’ is a rule of thumb for mariners. The ocean is a place of changing weather, strong currents and fluctuating tides. Rocks far underwater at high tide may be just below the surface at low tide. Watch the charts. You may not see the rocks. Know the landmarks.

I wonder if we believers in any age aren’t like boats on a voyage. Each generation has its unfamiliar territory, changing tides of faddish teaching and practice, currents of teaching that create unseen undercurrents, hidden perils, nasty rocks lying in wait for an oblivious sailor at ease…Winds and waves happen in culture. Tides rise and fall. Fads and movements come and go. How do we keep from being blown or carried off course?

We have the Chart. Rocks are marked. Beware—the world, the flesh, the devil. Beware false teachers. Beware the leaven of Pharisees. Beware…But what of the landmarks? What landmarks might we chart our course by? Where are those non-negotiable unchanging points of land or clanging bell-buoys to keep us off the reefs and on due course?

I’ve been pondering landmarks of our faith–sure things to measure a teaching, a ministry, a set of beliefs by, to ensure we aren’t being “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Eph.4:14)

The first, perhaps obvious measure of any landmark is whether it’s on the Chart at all! Does what I’m seeing line up with the Word of God? Every since Sinai (Ex.20:19), God’s people have been prone to want to hear from God through a man. How often have His people been misled by trusting the word of a man and not consulting the Chart itself? God’s Word is written to speak to the common man. His Spirit indwells the believer to enlighten his mind as he studies (I Jn.2:27) We can know God’s will, His voice, His intended course for our lives. His purposes are unchanging. His Word has not grown obsolete. Any word given more credence than this inerrant written Word is bound to steer us off course.

A rule of thumb for me in evaluating any ministry is what value it places on the Bible.
If a ‘new revelation’, experience or interpretation trumps what’s written or claims greater significance, I am suspect.
If the Word of God is handled piecemeal or taught in a leapfrog fashion, hopping over problem verses and passages, I’m wary.
Pastors, teachers and prophets are gifts to the Body of course, but are not infallible. How do we measure their ministries? By the Chart! There’s no substitute for being good ‘Bereans’ (Acts 17:11) and distinguishing the true from the counterfeit. Rule 1 of the High Seas. Learn to read and trust the Chart for yourself. Many perils will thus be avoided.

Have you ever studied a nautical chart?


Whew! There’s an awful lot of information there. Distances, points, bell buoys, rocks, sandy bottoms—I guess I should confess that when it comes to nautical charts I’m almost illiterate. But I have had a few lessons. I can spot the rocks. I recognize the sand spits…I look when Jim points out channels and points of land and shows me how they appear on the chart. This is challenging—identifying how the chart relates to the real thing. I once found myself in a little motor boat with just ‘the girls’, making our way out of a rock-strewn inlet. None of us could read the miniature chart we had along. Only I could actually see it–not yet needing reading glasses. That was stressful! I can testify, it is best to learn to read the Chart and be able to rectify the actual landmarks with those on the chart.

So yes, landmarks. I’ve been pondering what are the landmarks that I use to keep my little vessel off the rocks?

Landmark #1 The Cross—is it center front? Does it matter anymore now that the rescue has been made? Or is it an offensive doctrine best swept under the carpet and replaced with sweet smelling rose petals. The doctrine of the ‘substitutionary atonement’ of Christ on our behalf is taking a beating these days. Sin is not that serious. God not that ‘cruel’ they say. He is love…But the Cross declares His holiness in tandem with His love. It is a landmark we can safely chart our course by.

Landmark#2 The Saviour—is He made much of as both fully God and fully man? Or is He actually sidelined as the One who makes me great? Whose esteem is made much of: mine or Christ’s? I elaborated on this already last post, so will not repeat myself here except to point you to a book (review) you may have missed that is well worth the read and available online besides! Christ Esteem is the book. I’ve posted a review and sampling of quotes here. [Click link to access]

Landmark#3 The Second Coming—is it a ‘blessed hope’. It may seem spiritual to insist that one is more concerned with saving souls or bringing the kingdom to earth or in some other way serving God now, and therefore not concerned with His coming, but for me this is a red flag. All through the history of the church beginning with His ascension, the coming again of Jesus has been held out as our ‘blessed hope'(Titus 2:13). John says this hope is in fact a purifying hope: We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (I Jn.3:3) We are called strangers in exile here. This world is not our true home. We are not to love it or the things in it but to follow the example of the Hebrews 11 crowd of witnesses who lived in hope of a ‘better country, a heavenly one’ (Heb.11:13-16) Any movement or teacher that loses this hope has lost their way.

Landmark#4 Moral Purity—is the teacher/leader above reproach? This would seem to be a ‘no-brainer’ but oddly (or perhaps not so oddly) where teaching is unsound, very often moral laxity slips in. It may not be apparent on the surface. It may not even be present at first—but it’s not unusual to find persons claiming to be speaking for God who have abandoned their own marriages in the process. This should be a clanging ‘bell-bouy’ that the shoals are near. Do not trust this teacher, no matter how ‘spiritual’ they seem.

Landmark#5 Fear of God—Is God revered as the Almighty Sovereign before whom man cannot stand in his physical state and live? Or is a sloppy ‘intimacy’ with God boasted of and encouraged. Is God spoken of flippantly and casually as though he were a chatty chum, or with deep reverence? An authentically spiritual man or ministry will be characterized by the fear of God.

Landmark #6 Their testimony—Is it about Jesus, conviction of sin, repentance, and a new life in Christ? Or something else? Listen carefully. I have heard ‘testimonies’ that were more about advertising one’s authority to speak in God’s name, based on a bizarre encounter, than they were about genuine heart transformation. Nor does an emotional experience equal salvation. A testimony of God’s gracious salvation will exude humble gratitude and recognition of having been wrong. It will promote Jesus not self.

Landmark#7 Gratitude—Is this the theme echoing behind all their other teaching? A genuine minister of the Gospel will never have gotten over the marvel that God stooped down so low to bring him/her to Himself. This is a landmark requiring maintenance in my own life lest it deteriorate with the fading memory of what Christ has done. And on this Thanksgiving evening what better note to close on.

“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.” Heb.12:28


Thank YOU for considering my ponderings. I hope you will feel free to ammend this list of ‘landmarks’ with your own comments on ones that you’ve discovered along the way. We are after all in this boat together!

When “Who I Am” is overrated!


We ladies all stood there reading aloud together things we know to be true; the Bible says so…”I am God’s child…I am a friend of Jesus, I have been justified…I am free from condemnation, I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances, I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life…I am God’s temple, I am God’s workmanship….”

All we said was true. Why then my misgivings? The list was long, grouped under headings of “I am accepted”, “I am secure”, and “I am significant”. Ah yes, my ultimate set of needs according to secular theorists. Having these needs fully met is said to be necessary for self-actualization, critical to reaching my self’s full potential.

Seems that God knew what I needed. As His child I am all these things. So, what’s the problem? Why my uneasiness? I couldn’t put my finger on it right away. Apparently others haven’t either. Consider the logical extension of these Biblical “I am’s”, and I quote:

“I am amazing!”

I am God’s greatest creation.

He loves me to death.

I was born to do greater works than Jesus.

I was born for glory.

Nations are attracted to me ’cause I’m so good looking.

I have the mind of Christ: I think like God.

He’s my inheritance. I’m His inheritance,

And He actually likes me.

I like me too, and if you got to know me you would like me too.

Creation knows who I am.

The devil knows who I am.

God knows who I am.

Angels know who I am.

Today, I know who I am.



I kid you not. This is a verbatim script recited responsively with great enthusiasm by a large gathering of earnest students.* They are being trained to recognize who they are so they can go out and release all of Creation from the curse and take dominion of the earth. They are being taught they are little gods and therefore they should be asking: “Where’s my power?!”

This is ‘self-esteem on steroids’, as Jim puts it.

If ever there has been a self-actualized generation, ours should be it! We have no want of teaching on who we really are…(or do we? Have we missed something?) Now if we can just get this self-talk into our psyches till we really believe it. Just think what we might accomplish?!


Is focusing on ourselves really what we need?

This same teacher* had more to say:

“When you act like God you’re being yourself” he explained, not realizing the full implications of what he had said. Wasn’t this the original sin– wanting to be like God!

“The only reason you have a bad thought in your head is because you have [there is] a Devil who wanted to be what you became,” he explains, complete with a mocking depiction of those who contest that we are actually ‘sinners saved by grace.’

The Devil wanted to be like God, he explains. God said, “No way”, stripped him of power and made him watch while billions of people were made what he wanted to be– the image of God. [This is messing with my head, and my Bible, what about yours? Have I really gotten what Satan wanted–God-hood?!]


It seems so right… God has glorified you. You rock! You have only to recognize who you really are to exercise the dominion you’ve been given. This is the natural (humanistic) extension of the focus on Who I Am (in Christ).

And the kids lap it up like so much sweet antifreeze…

But somehow the ‘IN CHRIST’ part of the equation gets lost in the flattery. Everything seems to come from Scripture, right? kinda? This message did have a text—Daniel 7, with the key verse: “And the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.”

And there was a great collection of ‘Kingdom of God’ Scriptures fired off like so much ammo culminating in this heady conclusion: The time is here and now. You rock!

But where did Jesus go? I thought the whole point of life, the universe and everything was the ‘summing up of all things in Christ’ and ‘the praise of His glory’. Eph.1:10-12

How did we get to this place of being so amazing anyway? Used to be we were content to be ‘sinners saved by grace’?  I was preparing this morning to play piano at the local old folks’ home. As I leafed through the old hymns I marveled at how far we’ve come…

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…” [oops that slipped by the ‘self-esteem police!]

Beneath the Cross of Jesus: “two wonders I confess: the wonders of redeeming love, and my unworthiness.”

When I survey the Wondrous Cross: “Forbid it Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my God; All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.”

“Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness my beauty are, my glorious dress. Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, with joy shall I lift up my head”

“Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus—By it I have been pardoned. Saved to the uttermost.”

Oh sweet relief. I do not have to work myself into a fever-pitch of egotistical affirmations. When my eyes are on the One who really is amazing, worship is the only fitting response. When I take my rightful position, one of gratitude and awe at this Wonderful Saviour, this Coming King…self takes its rightful place–as catalyst for praising my Redeemer, not something to gratify, build up, and make much of.

Could it be that in shifting our focus in the here and now to ‘Who I Am’ we have set ourselves up to fall for Lucifer’s temptation? His own beauty went to his head. Considering it intrinsically his he declared: “I will make myself like the Most High.” Is.14:14

This was raw pride, the same substance that lurks in our hearts the instant we think we are or have some good thing originating in ourselves. Original sin is as good as it gets! Eve demonstrated the nature of our hearts when she opted to do her own will rather than God’s (Gen.3). This is who we are when left to our own devices. Of course this is why we needed a Redeemer. But is that need all in the past? Can we afford ever to forget “[our] purification from [our] former sins” (II Pet.1:9).

Is it really inappropriate for redeemed saints to speak of themselves as sinners? Do we not still daily need this Redeemer?

Yes, there is the objection that we are new creations in Christ. We are declared ‘holy ones’. And of course this is true. We do indeed stand freed from condemnation. And we are seated in the heavenlies too! Yet, here these bodies are living in earth’s gravity. And sinning. We are prideful. We continuously consider our selves to be of greatest importance, far more than we recognize I suspect.

As long as we inhabit these natural bodies we will know the nakedness of self-consciousness where we were intended only to know God-consciousness. For good reason our Redeemer ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb.7:25). For good reason we are called to ‘die daily’–to put to death the self-will that dogs our every waking moment
(I Cor.15:31; Rom.8:13).

Who I am in Christ is an incredible marvel. The list is worth reading regularly, but only as a backdrop to Who Jesus is. We will be on a surer footing to major here—on Christ-esteem.** Otherwise we are apt to mistake “Who I am in Christ” for my claim to fame, and to forget from whence we’ve come. To confuse my identity in Christ with my intrinsic nature is to fall for a subtle lie. And from that lie stems all manner of horrible, self-exalting, God effacing nonsense. I am… I am… I am… And forgetting all self-restraint we are soon feeding the flesh instead of putting it to death!

Do we think God’s Kingdom and ours can co-exist? It’s no use declaring who I am in Christ until I’ve filled my mind and bowed my heart to Who Christ Is. And when I’m occupied with that, who I am becomes a non-issue. I simply don’t need to talk about it. I am accepted, secure and significant in Him and the rest of my story is all to His credit. He is amazing and not only does he ‘rock’ but He is the ROCK of my salvation!

His Kingdom will come and He will be the uncontested glory of it. We will be forever the grateful creatures enthralled with Who He is, oblivious to how glorious we have been made, intent on worshiping the Lamb that is worthy because He was slain to redeem us to God. We will be free at last from self-interest, free to reflect His glory fully; this will be our ultimate fulfillment.

When we are tempted to ponder who we are we might do well to consider God’s response to Moses when he asked “Who am I…” in the face of a daunting assignment. God made no attempt to affirm poor inept Moses. Instead He diverted His attention to His own identity as the great I AM. This was in fact what Moses needed most to know. God would go with Him and that was enough. Ex.3:12-14


“And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
I Cor.1:30,31

” His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence… be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; …for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” II Pet.1:3,10-11

When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you… Col.3:4,5


*Kris Vallotton, “Your Identity as Sons of God” audio, Jan.27,2011.

**If you’ve ever grappled with how Biblical the concept of self-esteem is, you will be keenly interested in the book: Christ-Esteem: Where the Search for Self-Esteem Ends by Don Matzat (Harvest House, 1990). Now out of print, the unabridged text is available online in easily-readable pdf format. It’s perceptive and challenging, well worth reading.  I’ve tucked in a book review and some favorite quotes at my book review site.

I Love this Word!

It’s like fresh bread, dropped from heaven for our sustenance and delight.

It’s like a hammer, that breaks the rocks of resistance in our lives to pieces, if we let it. (Or we can throw away the hammer. Re-think it. Re-word it. Re-move its hardness…to our own loss.)Jer.23:29

It is like a sword, a fine-tuned sharp sword, slicing through our delusions, pointing out our motives, opening our abscesses for cleaning out. Heb.4:12

It is like a fire that burns away the lies we have believed and leaves us purified, pure gold and untarnished silver. Jer.23:29

It is a light in dark places, a beaming torchlight making our way plain, showing up the tripping hazards, allowing us to walk in this world without falling Ps.119:105, II Pet.1:19

It is like water, cleansing, refreshing, reviving for the marathon that is this lifetime. Eph.5:26

I love this Word. I love that I have God’s very Words in my own language, in a variety of versions, at my fingertips.

I love its trustworthiness, its unchangeableness, its absolute authority and sufficiency for the life I’m called to live.

There will be cleverly devised myths. There will be false words that try to slip in to exploit the hearers. II Pet.2:1 But this Word is a sure measure of truth. It is my God-given, infallible guide.

It is profitable for teaching, for reproving, for correcting, for training, for perfectly equipping me (and you) for every good thing He calls us to.
II Tim.3:16,17

We can tickle our ears with other things, tantalize our appetites with half-truths, look for meaning in dreams and omens and wordless pictures, hang on man-made words delivered with authority, thinking them all more significant than mere words on a page in an ‘old-fashioned’ book that surely needs upgrading to our ‘postmodern’ times…

But “what has straw in common with wheat?” Jer.23:28

We can sift through the text for words that bring only comfort and shake them free of context and appropriate them for ourselves willy-nilly. For instance, “I know the plans I have for you…” What graduate has not received a card with these words imprinted on it? “…plans to give you a future and a hope…” God had plans alright. Seventy years of captivity were first up. This reassurance was given to God’s people as they headed off to Babylon! Jer. 29:11 I suppose there is a principle here based in God’s character but…

Interesting that we don’t likewise grab other verses in Jeremiah: “I am devising a plan against you…” I have set my face against [you] for harm and not for good” (21:10) We are clearly selective!

But for all the misuse, abuse, and faulty exegesis, God’s Word stands sure and eternal—a clear revelation of a God who wants to be known, a clear statement of His love and invitation to relationship, and of the mess we are in without Him! Without this Word we would be adrift to figure out how best to live. We would be hopelessly sabotaged by our own inability to find our own way out of the woods of what seems right… But we have this Word, this true and timeless Word, a custom-fit for the likes of us.

For this I am thankful.


“Your words were found and I did eat them and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.” Jer.15:16

“And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” II Pet.1:19

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Tim.2:15

Unchanging Words to Live by

lil“It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.”

It happens. Life gets dark. Storms come. Jesus is nowhere in sight. We strain at the oars to make headway alone. When yikes!– Is that a ghost? Our worst fears get the better of us and HELP!!! Panic ensues. And then the voice: “Don’t be afraid. It’s me.” WHEW! And gladly we let Jesus into our boat and suddenly we’ve reached our destination. What was the big deal? [Click here to read John 6]

One moment we’re exhausted, haunted by imagined ghosts and about to die. The next we’re safely in harbor, the wind either abated or not an issue… The difference? Jesus in the boat.

“Without me, you can do nothing” He says. (Jn.15:5-7)  Funny, how much energy we can expend doing nothing!!!  But when we abide in Him and let His words abide in us—when we let Him in for the boat ride–it’s amazing what will be accomplished just for the asking.  Peter admonished his readers as they were undergoing persecution to be self-controlled for the sake of their prayers because the end was at hand. I Pet.4:7

In a similar passage Jesus warns his followers of tumultuous events that will come upon the earth and says they should “watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” In the midst of “people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world” and “in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves”, we are to be those who walk with confidence, recognizing that “our redemption is drawing nigh!” Lk.21:25-34 How is this possible? Only because we have His words. We know the rest of the story. Heaven and earth will pass away, but not His words…

I listened with sympathy this week to a young guy candidly rationalizing the acceptability of his lifestyle choices. He has chosen to forego ‘old school’ moral standards. He’s got the map upside down and is heading a direction he doesn’t expect. Things are pretty backwards, but in a world of other people doing the same sorts of things, he figures it will all work out. He can’t see through this fog of relativism. His grandparents wouldn’t approve. His girlfriend’s parents either. But this is a new generation. It’s all good… And I thought, no. I sympathize with the way things ‘seem’ to be, but it’s a sham. I’ll stick with the ‘old school’ any day if that means the tried and true Word of God. When did God get old anyway? He’s not a Grandpa! He is forever timeless. His standards don’t flex with our changing times and that’s a good thing, not a bondage. His Word is a lifeline! And I’m praying for this young starry-eyed couple. They’re entering a storm unawares. I’m holding out the hope that they will cry out in the storm and find that Jesus is close by.

Way back when, people were offended at Jesus’ words too. He claimed to be better than the sweet manna that had fed their forebears. He claimed to offer eternal wellbeing, true nourishment. They scoffed and thought Him sacrilegious and impertinent to make such claims.  They only followed for today’s loaves and fishes… Many turned back from following Him. This was too much.

But His hand-picked disciples, what did they say? “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!” (Jn.6:68)

This is the one whose words we most need to hear in the storm surges of life. When all is dark, when the rules to live by seem to have changed and we’re unsure what to do, when we can’t see past the rising waves… we can invite Him into the boat and listen to His reassuring, eternally true words—these words of spirit and life that transcend all craziness of place and time. Operating on any other basis is a useless expenditure of energy at best, and a recipe for destruction at worst. Only the Spirit of God, breathing through the Word of God gives the life and peace that we so need. (Jn.6:63)

And I’m passing on this story of Jesus climbing into the boat, to a new generation. With a three-year old attention span my grandson listened this morning, all cuddled up on Grandmom’s bed, imagining as best he could what it would be like to be in a boat at sea in a storm… and the difference it could make to invite Jesus into the boat. He knows little of storms, or boats, or oceans, or life!  But one day I pray this story will hold him in good stead. With Jesus in the boat, we can weather anything.


“For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jn.6:33